The medallion that was an essential part of the costume in Universal’s classic 1931 production Dracula.
It is Bela Lugosi’s portrayal of the Count in the Universal Studios film that has established itself in pop culture as THE image of a traditional vampire, the classic ‘aristocratic vampire Count’. It is this version of Dracula that has endured and has been imitated and copied countless times and the medallion is one of its more visually striking elements of that look.
The costume design was a deliberate attempt to emulate the formal evening attire of the early 1900’s. Part of this attire for an aristocrat, noble or decorated individual was often a neck order. A neck order is a decoration denoting rank, status and/or achievement, worn around the neck with evening dress, as opposed to a ribbon on the chest which is traditionally worn with a uniform.
What is interesting is that Dracula’s neck order or medallion only appears in a few scenes in the early reels of the film and then disappears. Yet it became indelibly ingrained in the public consciousness. This impact was undeniably helped by the fact that Bela Lugosi wore a reproduction medallion of a different design during numerous live appearances and performances in character as Dracula both promoting the film and after the production. According to Hollywood lore, he was even buried with a reproduction medallion on his death in 1956.
Even with its brief screen time the medallion, like the Count himself, endures and has become immortal